Most communications policies around the globe have been developed on models based on the economic, political and social realities of North America and Europe – which assume large private companies build expansive national wired infrastructures. So laws and regulations have evolved with the understanding that these wired networks are the main communication infrastructure and that wireless networks connect through them. But wired networks do not exist in many developing countries and do not necessarily need to be built.
Together with CIESPAL and with the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), APC has developed seven videos that explain what radio spectrum is and how it can affect our rights.
The spectrum both surrounds us and passes through us. Made up of waves of energy that allow us to communicate the way we do today – through radio, television, mobile phones, wireless internet and more — spectrum is an invisible common link that ties our societies together. A global shift in spectrum regulation is currently under way with regulatory reforms being developed and proposed in several countries. As the internet and wireless communication increasingly merge into a singular form of communication, we will be presented with unique opportunities to adapt to open, trusting and collaborative forms of regulation and technology use. This introduction to developing a policy on open spectrum by spectrum expert Evan Light for APC, breaks down what spectrum is, how it works and why governments with under-served communities stand to gain so much from opening up the spectrum to more users and uses.
Currently, about 20 million Kenyans own mobile phones. Mobile phones receive their signals over electromagnetic waves that are also used for everything from home appliances like microwave ovens and remote controls, to the radio and internet. These waves are assigned different frequencies or spectrum so that they don’t interfere with each other. However Kenya is at risk of running out of spectrum because of an outdated spectrum allocation framework and a disaster in day-to-day communications and the security of countless services is waiting to happen. A new study by Muriuki Mureithi commissioned by the APC proposes a solution.
Unused TV white spaces could be the way to get highspeed wireless internet to millions living outside major African cities. Manufacturers are gearing up for mass production of white space devices and now is the time to act. APC and partners are coordinating an important workshop for govt officials, regulators and professionals in October.
“We have the skills, the entrepreneurs, a spectrum model we can replicate, the standards, the technology and clearly we have the demand” said South African Henk Kleynhans in the wake of a TV white spaces workshop in Johannesburg last week. “All we need is a regulatory go-ahead.”